The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Library Commission will present an intensive creative writing skills workshop on Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The conference, Writers’ Toolkit, is free and open to the public.
There will be two sessions of two-hour workshops: 10 a.m. - noon, and 1 - 3 p.m. Each session will feature four concurrent classes. The morning session will offer “Writing Short Essays for Radio” with Colleen Anderson of Charleston; “Basic Writing Elements” with Richard Schmitt of Buckhannon; “Poetry: Getting Started” with Doug Van Gundy of Elkins; and “How Do You Publish for Children” with Cheryl Ware of Elkins.
Anderson will discuss writing and performing the artful short essay that can have listeners laughing or crying as they hear it. She’ll also explore inspirations for the essays from childhood memories to pet peeves to passionate beliefs, and have participants listen to some great essays and try their hand at writing one. Schmitt’s session will include the practice of basic writing craft elements focusing primarily on scenes versus exposition, points of view and altering the time element. He will have students practice exercises which will be read out loud and discussed.
Van Gundy will focus on the Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s three steps: getting started, keeping going, and getting started again. This includes creating a first draft, editing the draft and getting feedback from others. Ware will share her experience of working with small and large publishers and discuss the importance of studying trends in the children’s book market.
Afternoon sessions will offer “Travel Writing” with Anderson; “Strategies for Subduing the Self (Author)” with Schmitt; “Poetry: Keeping Going” with Van Gundy; and “Through the Eyes of a Child: Tailoring Your Narrative for Children” with Ware.
Anderson’s workshop will be a nuts-and-bolts introduction to travel writing in a variety of forms–from book-length travel guides to magazine features to newspaper articles to online publications. She also will cover topics such as pitching feature ideas, getting travel assignments, the importance of word counts, and the differences between traveling as a tourist and traveling as a writer. Schmitt’s session will include strategies for subduing the self (author) in stories both in first and third person. He will focus on how strong narrators present and translate action so that the author might separate himself or herself from the material allowing the reader to engage in the action objectively.
Van Gundy’s second workshop is tailored to students seeking strategies for revising their poems for clarity, musicality and cohesiveness. He would like participants to bring a poem in progress with them for group discussion. Ware’s session will discuss the difference between the picture book, chapter book, middle grade, young adult, and an adult novel with a young protagonist. She will present practice writing narratives for these different age levels.
Anderson is a freelance writer, performer, graphic designer and owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design, a creative studio. She has published a travel book, many feature articles, short stories, poems, two collections of original songs, and her award-winning radio essays are frequently heard on West Virginia Public Radio. She regularly teaches a weeklong workshop on short essays at Ghost Ranch, an arts center in New Mexico, and for more than 10 years, Anderson has written editorial copy for West Virginia’s official visitor guide, which earned the designation of “best state visitor guide in the U.S.” in 2005.
Schmitt has published stories in Puerto del Sol, Gulf Coast, Flyway, and Marlboro Review, among others. His story, “Leaving Venice, Florida” won first prize in The Mississippi Review short story contest and was anthologized in New Stories of the South: The Year’s Best 1999. He also has written two novels: The Aerialist (Harcourt Brace, 2001) and Kodiak (to be published soon). Schmitt is an associate professor of creative writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Van Gundy’s poems and essays have appeared in The Oxford American, Ecotone, Waccamaw, The Lullwater Review, The Fretboard Journal and Goldenseal. His first book of poems, A Life Above Water, was published in 2007 by Red Hen Press. He has been a visiting writer at Randolph Macon College, Barton College, Coastal Carolina University and Davis & Elkins College, and was recently an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Fla.
Ware is the author of the spunky Venola Mae books: Flea Circus Summer, Catty-Cornered, Venola in Love, and Venola the Vegetarian. Her educational picture book, Roberta Price Has Head Lice, is enjoyed by children and teachers alike. Currently, she is working as a writing consultant in West Virginia schools and working on a collaborative poetry book with a friend.
In addition, from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., the West Virginia Book Company will have books for sale and Mark Phillips, who has more than 20 years graphic design experience, and 15 years experience working in book design, will offer assistance to writers on graphic design services and publishing books. Participants should bring pens, pencils and writing tablets. They are welcome to bring a bag lunch to eat from noon - 1 p.m. There also are several eateries available within one block of the Cultural Center.
For more information about the Writers Toolkit workshop, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.